Trade deadlines and playoffs are about to make your season-long fantasy world small. It’s just you, your team, and a poor waiver-wire spot. There are only a few weeks remaining, and if you don’t make your league’s playoffs, there are even less.
Luckily, you can join daily fantasy play on websites like FanDuel at any point in the season. There are no playoffs, and you are never stuck with your team, especially one riddled with injuries and disappointment. For those who didn’t make playoffs these daily games offer a great way to hedge that entry fee you just lost for your season-long league, and for those who did make playoffs, this is but another chance to prove your fantasy football knowledge and skill, while winning some cash.
The key to winning any fantasy-style game is getting the most bang for your buck. Even in season-long leagues the key to success is drafting players with value that are likely to outperform their draft position. That’s where we come in. Each week we will provide you cheaper, high value, options on FanDuel that can help you begin building the perfect lineup, and by spending less on the players we suggest you’ll have budget room for those elite monsters you love like Julio Jones.
When playing 50/50 matchups the best strategy is to play it safe since you only need to outscore half the pool. In order to do this you need to project a safe outcome in terms of Cost Per Point (CPP). For clarity, I like to target around 130 points in Head-to-Head and 50/50 play, which comes out to be around $460 per point ($60,000 FanDuel budget divided by 130 desired points). We are in the business of targeting players likely to come at a cheaper CPP, more “bang for our buck”.
It’s not like I haven’t noticed Cam’s great matchup this week, and it’s not like I’m avoiding him in all lineups. However, you need him to be great if you pay $9,000 of your FanDuel budget on him, and what if you want some of the elite receivers or an expensive running back? Well, look no further!
This week is full of “safe floor” quarterbacks, starting with Alex Smith. At $6,600, Smith only needs to score 14.3 FanDuel points to reach our target value. He is averaging 19.5 points over the last four games, which includes a 15+ point performance against the Denver Broncos (fewest fantasy points allowed to QB’s this year). His recent rushing, averaging 6 rushes for almost 45 yards per game, has been an important factor in making him a “safe” play. Even if he only rushes for 33 yards, he would only need to throw for 175 yards and a touchdown, and the best part is that he is playing the Oakland Raiders, who rank 6th in most points allowed to fantasy quarterbacks. The Raiders have allowed multiple scores by quarterbacks in 8 of 11 games this year, making Smith one of the safest plays in terms of reaching and exceeding target value.
Just below the Raiders in points allowed to quarterbacks are the Steelers (7th most), and this week the fantasy beneficiary of said matchup is replacement vet, Matt Hasselbeck. Hasselbeck has not only exceeded 15 points in each of his last four games, but he has thrown for multiple touchdowns in each of his last three games as well. He doesn’t have the rushing yardage safety net that Smith offers, but his team struggles to move the ball on the ground, leading to heavy pass attacks. He is averaging 37.5 attempts per game, and while passing volume is hardly enough to hang your hat on for a QB in fantasy, he also happens to be fairly efficient, throwing for 7.2 yards per attempt in his last 3 games. He only costs $6,500, and he’s the perfect 50/50 quarterback this week.
*I don’t hate Gabbert, scoring over 16.5 points each of the last 3 weeks.
This week reminds me a lot of Week 12 when it comes to running backs and receivers. Due to the matchups, I don’t trust the high-end running backs, but the top receivers have some safer opponents. Also, I’m confident in the workload of some lower priced running backs, leaving budget to snag multiple elite receivers.
While I really like the workloads and prices of a couple mid-range guys, like DeAngelo Williams and Thomas Rawls, I usually target guys under $7,000 in this article in hopes of setting you up to get your favorite high-price guys in your lineup elsewhere.
I’ll start with Javorius Allen at $6,800, but that’s not to say I don’t like the prior two names better. We haven’t seen most of these lower-priced players very long, but so far, Allen has proven capable of putting up points even if his workload is not as high as most “starters”. He did only play 36-61 snaps in Week 12, according to Rotoworld, but Buck Allen has shown promise in the receiving game, adding extra touches for the back. Following the loss of Justin Forsett in Week 11, the Ravens have given the ball to Allen in some form or another an average of 21.5 times per game. He is likely to land somewhere around 100 yards from scrimmage, including 4 catches, so it is really just a matter of if he finds the endzone or not when it comes to exceeding our target CPP. This week he gets the Colts defense, ranked 8th in most points allowed to fantasy running backs. His upside may be limited while sharing the workload, but I think he happens to be one of the safest options to reach double digits this week and meet value.
Alfred Blue offers a more defined number-one role on his depth chart. He may not be getting an elite workload, but I’m confident in paying $6,000 for any running back averaging over 20 touches per game the last two games, especially one that has found the endzone in each of them. Blue doesn’t blow my mind on film, but he gets work near the goal-line and only needs 13 points to reach our target value. That’s only 70 total yards if he gets a score. His opponent this week, the Bills, has allowed the 11th most points to the position (averaging one running back touchdown against them per week since Week 5). Don’t get caught up in his low yards per carry. Blue’s volume makes him safe at this price, especially with a chance to score.
While some workloads are divided, making it tough to settle on a Denver back or a Kansas City back, Shaun Draughn makes it easy for us. He actually played all 56 of San Fran’s offensive snaps last week, and with the continued absence of Hyde his workload should remain high. Besides his opponent (Chicago) allowing the 13th most fantasy points to the position, the Bears defense has also allowed running backs to rush for 305 yards over the last two weeks. Draughn only needs 12.8 points to meet value at his $5,900 price tag, and he has put up over 11 FanDuel points each of his last three games, which includes matchups against Seattle and Arizona (top-10 in fewest fantasy points allowed to running backs).
*Keep an eye on Arizona. If David Johnson gets the start, he’s only $5,900 as well.
As I mentioned before, ideally you would be able to get your hands on multiple high-priced receivers, but the chance of you being able to afford three of them may still be a stretch in most cases. While I am much more confident in the cheap RB options, the less expensive value plays can be found at this position as well.
Martavis Bryant comes in at just $6,900, following his third consecutive week with a touchdown. With Big Ben in the lineup, Martavis has the potential to score on any play, and if he gets a score, he would only need 5 catches for 65 yards to reach our target CPP. He was able to do that last week against the Seahawks defense (4th fewest points allowed to receivers). This week he plays the Colts, who have allowed the 10th most points to the position. He has averaged over 17 points in his last three games.
Another recent riser is Kamar Aiken, whose point totals have increased four weeks in a row. Over the last four weeks he has averaged 12.6 points, which includes a 17 point performance with the new fill-in QB (Schaub). Aiken has also been heavily favored in this offense. The Baltimore Sun pointed out that his 32 targets over the last three games is the 5th most among receivers over that span. He was also 7th in yards and 12th in fantasy points during that time, so he feels like a very safe play heading into a matchup against the Dolphins, who allow the 7th most points to the position. He only needs 13.2 points to be worth his $6,100 price tag, and he surpassed that each of the last two weeks, including a game against a Rams defense that allows the third fewest points to the position.
Anquan Boldin may very well be my big miss on the weak, but at $6,000 he can only hurt you so bad. He is definitely capable of being a dud in this San Francisco offense, but over his last 5 games he has averaged over 9 targets. He has cashed in on that volume, averaging just under 87 yards receiving in those games. His opponents in that stretch include Seattle twice and Arizona, who both have a much better secondary than his Week 13 opponent (Chicago). It always worries me when I have members from the pass game and run game from the same team targeted in the same week, but it really isn’t unrealistic for Boldin to walk away with 7 catches for 95 yards and reach our CPP goal, while Draughn continues his workload.
*I normally save Travis Benjamin for tournament games, but his targets have been in double digits over the last couple weeks. He’s only $5,900.
Of course Gronk happens to be down the one week where it seems like all the other, much lower-priced, tight ends have great matchups. Every other tight end is under $7,000, including a Greg Olsen that is playing against a Saints defense that has given up three great tight end performances in a row. However, if you want to save a couple hundred or so, there are plenty of great options besides Olsen.
Travis Kelce has been getting steady work. He has just not been consistent in finding the endzone. That will likely change this week, as he visits the Raiders, who are currently leading the way in touchdowns allowed to tight ends. At $6,200, Kelce would simply need to add 5 catches and 50 yards (his norm) to a touchdown to reach value with 13.5 FanDuel points. Stack him with Smith, and ride the Oakland defensive woes to victory.
My favorite value play at tight end this week is Delanie Walker. Mariota appears to be locked in on him, especially with the injuries and inconsistencies at the wide receiver position for the Titans. He averaged over 15 points per game over his last four games and even managed to be a value when he didn’t find the endzone. You can definitely trust him, as he is averaging 7.4 targets per game this year and has a rapport with his QB, and this week he gets the Jaguars defense. He nearly scored 15 points the last time he played the Jags, and that was at their place. The Jacksonville defense has allowed the eighth most points to the position, making this a very favorable matchup for a proven commodity in Walker.
See notes here.
Arizona is definitely worth the $5,400 against the Rams, who make all defenses worth starting against them, but if you need to save budget, Chicago, Tennessee, and Washington all have favorable matchups and only cost $4,400. See here for defensive streaming scores.